Tuesday, September 8, 2009


"Rejoice, O earth,
because from the womb of Anna,
as from a fertile vine,
has sprung a sweet ripe cluster.
To the harvesting of this vineyard
all are invited,
none are excluded
- it is the joy of all."
- St. John of Damascus (c. 676 - 749)

We beseech thee, O Lord, pour into our hearts the abundance of thy heavenly grace : that like as the child-bearing of the Blessed Virgin Mary was unto us thy servants the beginning of salvation, so the devout observance of her Nativity may avail for the increasing of our peace. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
- Collect from the Mass of the Day

The God whom earth, and sea, and sky
Adore, and laud, and magnify,
Whose might they own, whose praise they swell,
In Mary's womb vouchsafed to dwell.

The Lord whom sun and moon obey,
Whom all things serve from day to day,
Was by the Holy Ghost conceived,
Of her who through his grace believed.

How blest that Mother, in whose shrine
The great Artificer divine,
Whose hand contains the earth and sky,
Once deigned, as in his ark, to lie: -

Blest in the message Gabriel brought,
Blest by the work the Spirit wrought;
From whom the Great Desire of earth
Took human flesh and human birth.

All honour, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.
- by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609), trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish by John Mason Neale in 1854

Dearly beloved, the day for which we have longed is come, even this holy-day of the praiseworthy and Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary. Let our land laugh and sing with merriment, bathed in the light of this great Virgin's rising. She is the flower of the field, from her the priceless Lily of the valley has blossomed. This is she whose delivery changed the nature that we draw from our first parents, and cleansed away their offence. With her that sentence which was pronounced over Eve was remitted. To her it was never said : In sorrow you shall bring forth children. She brought forth a child, even the Lord, but she brought him forth, not in sorrow, but in joy.

Eve wept, but Mary laughed. Eve's womb was big with tears, but Mary's womb was big with gladness. Eve gave birth to a sinner, but Mary gave birth to the Sinless One. The mother of our race brought punishment into the earth, but the Mother of our Lord brought salvation into all the world. Eve was the foundress of sin, but Mary of righteousness. Eve gave a welcome unto death, but Mary was our help unto life. Eve wounded, but Mary was our help unto life. Eve wounded, but Mary healed. For Eve's disobedience, Mary offered obedience. For Eve's unbelief, Mary offered faith.

Mary sings, as it were, to an instrument of ten strings, and between its quick notes sounds the timbrels of those who celebrate this new kind of motherhood. Therefore let the gladsome choirs join with her, to sing antiphonally her lovely hymn. O hearken to the melody which she makes as she proclaims:

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour;
for he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
for he hath magnified me.

This new miracle of Mary's delivery has taken away the cause of our increasing burden of sin, and the song of Mary brought to an end the lamentations of Eve.
(Sermo 194 in Append.)


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